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A day in the life of a Field Service Engineer

Glamour, riches, fame, luxury…not usually words you would associate with the typical day of a field service engineer at Clearview Traffic whose job it is to ensure continuous availability of the traffic flow data required by road operators – to help them optimise the management of the road network.

In fact, it’s a tough job that often goes unseen and under-appreciated.

Without their efforts, the traffic flow data that traffic officers rely on to keep traffic moving would disappear, the officers would be working blind, traffic would grind to a halt, and road rage would rise to new levels.

A Challenging Role

Field Service Engineers

Our engineers are deployed up and down the length and breadth of the country, battling against the elements or waiting patiently for a break in the weather until it is safe.

As one of our engineers puts it:

  • Rain is a problem. Laptops don’t do well when wet and the ground around sites is slippery and generally wants to come with you, stuck to your shoes. Also having soaked through clothes makes it uncomfortable, even back in the car, the windows steam up. Umbrellas are often too dangerous to use next to high-speed roads, due to the fierce gusts of wind from passing HGVs.
  • Windy conditions pose a real threat and safety has to be our priority, so we often have to reschedule work, especially if we are supposed to be working at height, such as 50ft up in a Cherry Picker by the side of a busy dual carriageway.
  • Poor visibility from road spray can cause jobs to be postponed because road users may not see traffic management cones and signs.
  • Sun can be tricky, too. It’s very easy to get sunburnt and applying sun cream with grubby hands isn’t pleasant. Laptop screens can be almost impossible to see.

The role offers plenty of variety, requiring the engineer to be creative, resourceful, quick thinking and a pragmatic problem solver; often working under tight time constraints and at the mercy of traffic management crews:

“Certain criteria that have to be met before traffic management crews can deploy cones and close lanes. We are often told we will have between 10pm and 5am to replace road loops on a motorway. In reality, traffic counts delay cone deployment, plus it may take 1-2 hours to set up and the same to remove. So that seven hour window for the job suddenly becomes three hours (in the worst cases) meaning there are huge pressures to complete the work very quickly without letting quality slip.”

Engineers also suffer occasional abuse from frustrated anti-social road users who find it hilarious to hurl verbal abuse or even empty cans and bottles, fruit or half eaten snacks whilst they work at the roadside.

But it’s not all bad, as they are often mistaken for the police or a fourth emergency service, even though the amber light bar and reflective ‘Highway Maintenance’ vehicle signage should give the game away.

A Highly Skilled Role

The roadside can be a very hazardous environment so it is critical that our team have the right tools, the right personal protective equipment and the right accreditations, training, skills, qualifications and experience to do the job in the safest and most efficient manner possible, minimising risk and disruption at all times.

As well as the company being BS OHSAS 18001 Occupational Health and Safety Management scheme accredited, each of our engineers undergoes strict training in line with National Highways Sector Scheme 8 undergoing regular training on areas such as first aid, manual handling, traffic management, use of power tools and electrical safety.

Our Senior Engineers are qualified supervisors under the Street Works Qualifications Register, meaning that they have been formally assessed by SWQR as fit to be responsible for overseeing and undertaking installations of electrical apparatus at the roadside.

As well as this training, each of our engineers has in-depth technical training on all of our products and access to specialist knowledge within the business.

A Role That Makes a Crucial Difference To Our Business

Many companies outsource this skilled role to the lowest bidder, but in our view this is a key skill-set to retain within the business.

It gives us absolute control of how our systems can be optimally deployed in different environments, and the ability to call upon that experience at a moment’s notice.

That expertise makes a real difference in many situations and the quality of service that we pride ourselves on is why we continue to win business – and why we now maintain the data provision services on 13 of the 19 UK DBFO contracts.

If you’d like to find out more about Clearview Traffic Group and our traffic flow data solutions, please feel free to get in touch here.

Author: |Date Published: June 2014

Links: Traffic Flow Monitoring

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